Dog lovers came out to play with Wes Anderson Tuesday evening at Isle of Dogs‘ New York premiere. The only wagging tails at the Metropolitan Museum of Art may have been relegated to the screen, but stars Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton and Jeff Goldblum all hope to see more theaters open their doors for filmgoers’ furry friends.
Several dog-friendly special screenings have popped up since the film’s SXSW premiere Saturday. The Roxie Theater in San Francisco held a pup preview Monday, and Denver, Colorado’s Sie FilmCenter has one slated for April 16. That’s not to mention more than a dozen dog-approved invitations coming up in British theaters this Sunday, March 25. It is a trend that’s all too fitting for Anderson’s Isle of Dogs (cheekily pronounced “I love dogs”), considering the stop-motion feature — which charts 12-year-old Atari’s (Koyu Rankin) fearless search for his exiled dog, Spots — is a heart-on-its-sleeve ode to man’s best friend.
“Oh, I think it’s a very good idea. I think it’s a great idea, as a matter of fact,” Murray, who voices a dog named Boss, told The Hollywood Reporter of the pooch-friendly screenings. “I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of theaters had dog days. We have dog days at baseball parks, and it’s a huge hit. I think they should have dog days in the movie theater.”
Goldblum, who voices the film’s resident “Did you hear?” gossiper Duke, was also smitten with the idea. “I’ll come and clean up, too, if they make any mess,” he offered. “Bring them in! We can’t get too close to dogs.” Goldblum also said he knows the bond between a boy and his dog firsthand, barking excitedly in imitation of his standard red-haired poodle, Woody, who’s “so good” with his young sons, Charlie Ocean and River Joe. ““And they love him to pieces,” he added.
Swinton, who voices a wise, TV-watching pug named Oracle, told THR that she intends to show the film to her five dogs — Rosy, Dora, Dot, Louis and Snowbear — “as soon as I can,” but insisted that Isle of Dogs is accessible for less obvious audiences, as well. “Even cat lovers are going to love this one. I think the cat lovers will have to bow down,” she said. “Why people can’t love both, I don’t quite understand! I’m a lover of cats.”
That sentiment proved true, at least, for Kunichi Nomura, who in addition to casting and co-writing the film with Anderson, Jason Schwartzman and Roman Coppola, voices the corrupt and cat-loving Mayor Kobayashi, who calls for the exile of snout fever-ridden dogs from Japan’s fictional Megasaki to the toxic Trash Island.
To those speculating whether these film outings are a dog-and-master marketing plan from the Isle of Dogs team, producer Jeremy Dawson said they had little to do with it. He’s confident, though, that it will prove to be “a fun, special event to do.”
“One thing that everybody knows about dog lovers is dog lovers will show you pictures of their dogs, they’ll wear T-shirts of their dogs, they’ll get mugs of their dogs. The love their dogs,” Dawson said. “And I think the dog thing is kind of [building] its own momentum a little bit. It’s not like it was a big calculated maneuver.”
So will the dogs like it alongside their doting owners? “I don’t know if dogs are going to fully follow the language,” Dawson joked, “but part of the movie’s in Japanese, so it’s not always for English-speakers, either.”
After the red carpet, premiere attendees settled into the Met’s street-level theater, where Anderson, who arrived late, called the Isle of Dogs cast to the stage. He introduced many of his frequent collaborators as “old friends.” Others in attendance from the film included Schwartzman; Frances McDormand and Greta Gerwig, who voice human characters Interpreter Nelson and foreign exchange student Tracy Walker, respectively; Courtney B. Vance, who plays the narrator; Fisher Stevens, who voices Scraps; and Liev Schreiber, who voices the plot-driving canine, Spots.
The screening was met with rapturous applause (and some barks and howls), particularly when the animation team led by Jason Stalman rolled through the credits. Guests with a golden ticket then went to a post-film fete in the museum’s Great Hall, where there were open “flu serum” spirit and “puppy chow” sushi bars to indulge. Servers sported “pro dog” activist headbands while passing hors d’oeuvres to the live drumbeats of traditional Japanese Taiko.
Forgoing the sushi line, Swinton and Murray entered the hall nonchalantly holding hands before Murray, wearing a corduroy fisherman’s hat, broke away to wrap guest and former co-star Willem Dafoe into a bear hug, lifting him off the ground. McDormand, meanwhile, hung to the hall’s back periphery with Balaban and others, while Gerwig situated herself with friends on an ornate sofa. Schwartzman and Goldblum circled the central bar, stopping for rounds of conversation with friends and colleagues.
The site marked an Anderson family reunion of sorts, one that Swinton told THR she’s ever “happy and grateful” to be a part of. “These things are just a dream for me,” she said. “And long may it roll on.”